Will International Students Abandon the UK?

International students make up a significant part of the UK’s student body. As Boris Johnson and Priti Patel’s new immigration policies are enforced, will international students still be interested in building their careers here?

Students from all across the world have flocked to Britain for its prestigious universities, staying in the UK afterwards to benefit the culture, society and economy with their skills in the arts, business or military.

But Home Secretary Priti Patel’s new immigration system appears to be even more outwardly and proudly hostile than Theresa May’s and may serve as a deterrent to the ‘best and brightest’ the Home Office seeks to attract.

A survey last year showed 71% of people from ethnic minorities in the UK experienced discrimination. [Image: Guy Bell/REX/Shutterstock/The Guardian.]

Already, the data overwhelmingly shows xenophobic and anti-migrant discriminatory attitudes have risen since the 2016 EU Referendum, so why would overseas youth choose to study in the UK and inflict themselves with crippling debts at the same time as of 2022?

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s new immigration system appears to be even more outwardly and proudly hostile than Theresa May’s

While an undergraduate degree for a UK student costs around £9,250, an international student can expect to pay £14,604 for the same course. And that’s not considering the extortionate Home Office charges which include forking out for hefty visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge per every year of study.

Immediately, international students are filtered through this socioeconomic funnel with only those wealthy enough to be able to afford to study in the UK. Clearly, the Government is more concerned in attracting the fattest wallets over intelligent minds and skills.

One example of a Masters course at the University of Sheffield shows home (and currently EU) students pay £8,000 per year whereas an “overseas” learner will have to pay £18,500. Similarly, a Masters at Newcastle costs £10,950 for a UK/EU student and an eyewatering £23,400 for an international student.

International students at Sheffield University celebrating its ‘We Are International’ campaign. [Image: University of Sheffield.]

Visas are restrictive too. Students can apply and reside in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) student visa for up to five years, covering their time for most undergraduate courses and a potential Masters. However, their chosen master’s degree must be relevant to their undergraduate course. This is a heavy burden to put upon any young person’s shoulders, effectively denying them the chance to change their mind regarding which career they wish to explore and which skills they may invest back into the UK after graduation.

International students are filtered through this socioeconomic funnel

It seems, as things currently stand, that most international students are treated as cash cows by the UK Government. Many universities are extremely welcoming and inclusive but the fees for their studies are extremely prohibitive to students from low-income backgrounds across the world. It will be the UK’s loss as much as it will be for EU students who have dreamed of studying in the country.

International students deserve so much more than spending obscene amounts of money to come to the UK and then face hostility on our streets when they do come here.